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I joined the civil service 7 years ago. Id found myself unemployed and walked into the Jobcentre back in the days where all the jobs were hand written on these little cards. I saw a job that seemed Ok and took down the reference number to the receptionist to apply. The next thing I knew I got the job and started in the Social Security as a 4 week casual......
My first Job was as an Adminin Assisitant for JSA. For £6900 per year ( I dont know how I coped!!)> It involved filing ENORMOUS amounts of paperwork into these little wallets they kept calling casepapers. These casepapers were all filed in this big storage they called a "Kardex" . This thing took over 3 floors. And there was an overflow, and an overflow of the overflow... OMIGOD! And that was just one of my jobs...I then had to do photocopying, Faxing, sorting out the enormous amount of prints that would be generated and give them to the Admin Officers. (ill talk about them later) Anyway a couple of months passed and They extended my Temporary contract, again and again until 11 months had gone by. At the 12 month stage they either had to keep you on or youd have to go. but in our office you didnt just get kept on you had to "apply" for it. Luckily for me there was a recruitment just before I was due to leave.
I had to go up against people who were just apply "off the street" as it were to keep my job. I did actually keep the Job and was made permanent, but there were some Good staff that lost their jobs as a result of the recruitment and others were taken on in their place. (which I could never get my head around!!)
So I kept my job and then I thought "what else can I do". I looked around at the Administrative Officers. They are the ones that you speak to when you ring and say "my Money hasnt gone in" or "Have you recieved my claim?". I thought to myself thats what I want to do! I want to do claims!! (I was young I thought that was it in life!) So I applied twice - and didnt get it. I was destined to File paper forever...Until they had a recruitment where they didnt require an interview. Hmmm Thats for me! Yep I got it!. I was now processing claims, It was a lovely place to work, there was a good old fashioned civil service atmosphere, hell you even had "spare" people to take extra work.
But No. The government got thinking. We need to cut staff, they thought. And there began the decline. Staff were sent to work in other Government departments, Offices began to close, "voluntary" redundancies. I say voluntary becuase If your office closed and its 170 miles to the nearest one then they havent really given you much of a choice. And we got to where we are now. Telephones unanswered becuase of the lack of people to answer them. Sickness because of the stress due to not being able to manage a workload. Yet the "progress" is that when you claim you ring a call centre. You are not allowed to just walk in and say " I have a problem" You have to make an appoinment to have a problem. Believe me we hate it as much as the public do. Thats not service.
But as is the civil service. They may cut the staff, they may move us weekly to different jobs but still we will give 100%. Becuase in times like this it is the people who keep you going. your colleagues.
But If you are thinking why would anyone want to do that?. I have to say there are very good reasons why people still stick at it regardless. Flexi Time for one!. Youd normally be in work for 8. You wake up at 7 and think "im still too tired- i need another hour" You get in for 9am.You walk in, "morning" they say. Yip thats flexi. And to be honest weve had it so long that its almost like a right! but If you listen to other people who do say 7 - 7 and they have to stay until 7 no chance of finidhing early then you realise how lucky we are to have it. similarly there are several types of leave. You get Paid sick leave. 6 month at FULL pay and then 6 months at 1/2 pay. Not the £70 a week you get on SSP! You also get Special leave should you require it. Son to ill to go to school & no one to look after him? No problem Paid special Leave. 25 days Annual Leave a year. With the option to buld up to 3 days extra Flexi leave per month!. And then of course the priviledge leave bank holidays, queens "birthday!", Maundy Thursday. You can choose to work Part Time, Term Time, full Time, Short days , Long days. You dont have to pay a pension, its already done for you. Non contributory. Such a rarity now. And then of course theres your colleagues. Youre in the same boat. Because whatever life or work will throw at you, working in such a close knit environment you will inevitabley make some lifetime friends. They are tho ones that will make you a cup of tea when youve got soaked walking in the rain. Or take that extra bit of work off you when youre stressed. Becuase they are what make up the civil service. Ok the pay isnt brilliant around £12000 now for an Admin assistant, £14000 for an admin officer and around £16000 for an Executive officer, and it is getting harder. But Im still there and that speaks volumes.
Hope you enjoyed my little trip down memenory lane.. take care
The pay is a bit crap lol, I work in in the Crown Service and even tho there's a pension, flexi time, subsidised canteen, Queens Bday off it's SO boring. It's a bit of a doss though!
bonsi6337 18.05.2006 00:25
I know exactly how you feel! I worked for the BA for 5 years before I gave up work when my oldest daughter was born and even though it's a stressful, thankless job, I would go back there in a heartbeat (if I still lived in the same area). Great review. Di xx